State health officials have filed an emergency regulation that would require health plans to cover the costs of coronavirus testing for all essential workers, something they say will reduce barriers so more people can get tested.
Under the new regulation from the California Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC), COVID-19 testing would be classified as a basic medical necessity for health care and other essential workers, regardless of symptoms or known exposure to someone with the virus.
DMHC says requiring health insurers to pay for tests without co-pays or cost sharing will give vulnerable populations and people who can’t physically distance at work more access to testing, and help infected people isolate faster.
A spokesperson from the California Association of Health Plans says insurers in the state have already been covering COVID-19 testing if ordered by a physician per federal guidelines. But instead of doctors evaluating which patients have a medical necessity for testing on a case-by-case basis, essential workers would now automatically qualify for their tests to be paid for by health plans.
On Wednesday, DMHC submitted the emergency regulation to the state's Office of Administrative Law, which has 10 days to approve it.